The Best Business Loan And Financing Resources For Washington Small Businesses

Washington State is known both for its breathtaking typography and for being one of the biggest tech hubs in the nation (outside of Silicon Valley). With the Seattle metro area experiencing explosive growth, it’s a great time to be doing business in the Evergreen State. Of course, keeping a business running smoothly requires money — sometimes money that you don’t immediately have in hand.

Luckily, Washington is one of the easier states in which to get small business funding. It is well-served by lenders ranging from banks, to credit unions, to alternative online lenders.

We’ll take a look at some of the types of lending available to you in Washington state, as well as some specific lenders you may want to consider.

The Best Online Business Lenders For Washington Businesses

Most online lenders operate nationwide, making them an option for the vast majority of businesses in the United States. Whether or not they’re the right option for you is another matter.

What online lenders offer is speed, convenience, and more lax lending standards than their traditional counterparts. As you might expect, online lending has a somewhat controversial reputation. The truth is there are online lenders with transparent processes and reasonable rates and there are predatory ones who will hide their fee structure and charge usurious rates. Weeding out the bad ones and honing in on the funders who can give you a good deal can be time-consuming.

Washington does regulate the maximum interest that can be charged on a “loan.” What this means for online lending is that lenders who depend on charging very high-interest rates may not offer some (or any) of their products within the Evergreen State. Note that regulations governing loans usually only apply specifically to loans and not to loan-like products like merchant cash advances.

Fundera

If you’re new to the world of online lending, you may have a hard time narrowing down your options. Matchmaking services like Fundera can do that labor for you. You simply fill out one application and Fundera will try to pair you with one of their lending partners. Fundera isn’t the only matchmaking service out there, but there are a couple factors that help them stand out. The first is that there’s no direct fee for using the service (it’s paid by the partner you’re matched with). The second is that they carefully curate their lending partners.

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LoanBuilder

LoanBuilder is a loan service offered by PayPal. With reasonable rates, customizable term lengths, and weekly payments, LoanBuilder is one of the better options in Washington state when you’re in the market for a short-term loan or similar product.

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BlueVine

If you’re looking for something a little less traditional, it might be worth taking a look at BlueVine. BlueVine offers funding in the form of short-term lines of credit and invoice factoring. Invoice factoring lets you sell your invoices in advance for a small fee.

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Lending Point

Washington may be known for hosting innovative businesses, but financing your risky business venture can be extremely challenging. Lending Point offers traditional installment loans in small amounts to individuals with good credit. This is great if you need a little more money to get things off the ground.

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OnDeck

OnDeck is one of the bigger names in online lending, offering a mix of short-term loans and lines-of-credit to businesses that need money quickly. They’re willing to work with businesses with fairly poor credit, while offering transparent and relatively reasonable terms.

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Washington Banks & Credit Unions

Online lending might be shiny and new, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your best option. Banks and credit unions still offer the best rates, provided you can meet their more stringent qualifications.

Where online lenders are largely unmoored from geography, banks and credit unions usually serve specific markets. Even large, national banks will typically require you to apply for business loans at a local branch. Many will also require you to be a checking/savings account customer as a condition of extending you credit.

If you have a good relationship with your local bank or credit union, be sure to inquire about their business products. National banks with branches in Washington include:

Chase Bank

America’s biggest bank has a healthy presence in Washington State. Despite their size and market share, they’re still pretty traditional when it comes to business loans, so you’ll have to seek out a branch in your area.

If you can meet their requirements and don’t mind dealing with an enormous lender, Chase offers some of the best business loan rates out there.

Borrower requirements:
• Must have excellent credit (high 600s)
• Must have access to a Chase Bank branch
Read our Chase Bank review

Wells Fargo

Widely considered one of the more small-business-friendly big banks, Wells Fargo also has one of the most modern application processes (as far as banks g0). If you need speed combined with traditional banking perks, or don’t have a branch nearby, take a look at what Wells Fargo can offer from a distance.

Just be aware that the bank has been plagued by scandals and poor earnings recently, so factor that into your risk calculations.

Borrower requirements:
• Must have $1.50 in cash flow for every dollar borrowed.
• Must have a personal credit score of 640 or above.
Read our Wells Fargo review

 

US Bank

US Bank is one of the smaller of the big national banks, with a reputation for being a bit more personable and flexible. Their branches are a little scarce in Washington once you get away from the I-5 corridor, however.

Borrower requirements:
• Must be located in a state served by U.S. Bank
• Must have been in business for two years
Read our U.S. Bank review

 

Credit Unions

If you’re looking for the absolute best rates on loans, it’s hard to beat credit unions. As non-profits, they can (at least in theory) offer perks to their members that wouldn’t be possible from an institution concerned about their bottom line. The downside of credit unions is that they tend to be extremely local, with limited branch presence. Though less common than in the past, some credit unions may have restrictions on who can join.

Credit unions offering business loans are uncommon, but many offer personal loans that can be used for smaller business expenses.

Some of the more accessible credit unions in Washington State include:

  • Alaska USA Federal Credit Union 
  • Boeing Employees Federal Credit Union (BECU)
  • First Technology Federal Credit Union
  • OnPoint Community Credit Union 
  • Wings Financial Credit Union

Bad Credit? Your Best Options

According to conventional wisdom, if you have poor credit, you’re out of luck when it comes to financing. These days, that’s not really the case. While good credit will definitely make it easier to find funding, there are numerous lenders and financial products that are more concerned with your cash flow and business fundamentals than they are an abstract number.

If your credit is bad, consider:

  • Online Lenders: The online lending industry grew in the ashes of the 2008 market crash, with many specializing in lending to businesses with good fundamentals but bad credit. Some of the lenders use predatory practices and should be avoided at all costs, but there are many that have established transparent and reasonable lending practices.
  • Non-traditional Products: Loan products like invoice factoring aren’t very concerned about your credit history. If you’re in real estate, hard money is also an option, but keep the risks in mind.
  • Credit Cards: This is not a loan per se, but one of the easier ways to build your credit back up is to get a credit card and pay it off every month. Even if you don’t qualify for the sexiest business credit cards out there, many companies are willing to extend small credit lines to risky customers. In the worst case scenario, there’re still secured credit cards.

What To Consider When Choosing A Lender

buying a pos system

It’s easy to get into the mindset of having to make yourself look good to a potential lender. But make no mistake, you’re “buying” a product from them. It’s most important that they meet your needs and standards.

Here are some things to keep in mind when seeking a lender:

  • Your Industry: Some lenders specialize in lending to specific industry. Others can’t or won’t lend to certain industries. If they can’t write you a loan, cross them off your list.
  • Borrowing Amount: If you need $5,000, you’ll be looking at different lenders than if you need $5 million. Choose the right tool for the job.
  • Rates & Fees: How much is it going to cost you? Are the lender’s rates in line with the industry standard? Do they tell you what additional fees they charge, or do they hide them?
  • Time To Funding: Do you need the money right away or next quarter? Choose a lender that can work with your timetable.
  • Term Lengths: You’ll want to know how quickly you have to pay the money you’re borrowing back. Make sure you can afford the loan over the long-term.
  • The Type Of Expense Being Financed: Some financial products are limited in what they can be used for. Do you need a lump sum of cash? Or do you need a line of credit that you can draw upon periodically?
  • Collateral: Secured loans and lines of credit require some form of collateral, usually in the form of an asset, real estate, or cash deposit. If you don’t have collateral to put it, you’ll want to look at unsecured loans.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, we’ve helped you get a better sense of the funding options available to businesses in Washington State. Whether you’re just starting or expanding, there should be a lender out there who can fit your needs.

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Want to see more options? We can help you compare lenders and credit cards.

Just starting out? Check out our resources for startups.

The post The Best Business Loan And Financing Resources For Washington Small Businesses appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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What Is A Confession of Judgment? Should I Sign One?

As you might expect, any financial agreement will be a trek into the frightening realm of legalese. If you aren’t up on your jargon–and even if you are–you’re likely to run into some unfamiliar terms. One of the more ominous ones you may encounter in the alternative lending world is the confession of judgment.

Is it as bad as it sounds? At the risk of spoiling the big reveal of this blog post, “yes.” While this post is no substitute for legal advice, we can provide some basic information about what a confession of judgment is, where you’re likely to encounter one, and whether it’s usually a good idea to sign one. Read on and we’ll try to break it down for you.

Collateral & Personal Guarantees

When you apply for a loan or cash advance, your funder needs to prepare for the possibility that you will be unable or unwilling to pay back your balance in full. Usually, they will require some form of collateral. With traditional secured loans, this usually means putting up an asset you own, ranging from real estate to heavy equipment to a cash deposit. If you default on your loan or advance, your funder can then recoup some of their loss by keeping your collateral.

A confession of judgment isn’t collateral, per se. In fact, it’s usually paired with a form of unsecured “collateral” called a personal guarantee. A personal guarantee is essentially a promise to pay back your loan or MCA with personal assets should your business be unable to. If that gives you pause, it should; putting your personal assets at risk raises the stakes for you as a borrower since it’s removing the distinction between yourself and your business. Sounds like a pretty good deal for your funder, though, right?

On paper, it looks like a solid win, but enforcing a personal guarantee can be an ordeal for lenders. In many cases, they’ll need to bring a lawsuit against the guarantor to recoup their losses. That’s where the confession of judgment comes in.

Confession Of What?

So let’s say a funder is taking on a high-risk borrower for an unsecured loan or MCA. They think there’s a reasonable chance the borrower will default, but they don’t want to sink the money and time into a lawsuit to enforce the personal guarantee. As a condition for the loan or MCA, the borrower may have to sign a confession of judgment.

A confession of judgment allows the funder to go after the borrower’s personal assets as though they’d successfully received a judgment against them in court. That means the funder bypasses most of the due process the borrower normally be afforded: no trial, no hearing, no opportunity for the borrower to defend himself or herself. The funder simply needs to file the confession of judgment with their county clerk or appropriate agency. The courts will then inform the borrower that a judgment has been made against them.

As you can imagine, confessions of judgment are controversial. Not every state uses them (they’re more prevalent in the Mid-Atlantic states) and even among those states they may not be applicable to all financial contracts in your jurisdiction (most of those state only allow them for commercial transactions). They may be valid only for specific types of debt and for a specific amount of time. A confession of judgment can apply to debts currently outstanding or those that will become due in the future. Be sure to speak to a lawyer about any specific questions you have about how your jurisdiction adjudicates confessions of judgment.

Should You Sign A Confession Of Judgement?

No. Not if you can help it. You should always think long and hard before signing any of your legal rights away, and a confession of judgment is no different. Depending on your jurisdiction, it can severely impede your ability to protect yourself from collection efforts.

On the other hand, if you’re able to pay off your loan or MCA without any issues, the confession of judgment won’t ever really come into play. It’s only filed if your funder is unable to collect on your debt. If there’s no need to start a collection action against you, it’s simply another piece of paper you signed.

But again, you should really avoid signing one if you can possibly help it.

What If I’ve Already Signed One?

Don’t panic! If you’re making your payments on time, it’s unlikely that you’ll even need to think about your confession of judgment again. A confession of judgment has specific triggers that need to be met before it’s valid. In most cases, this trigger will be missing payments.

If your funder has actually filed a confession of judgment against you, the picture isn’t as rosy. In most states, however, you’re not completely out of options even if you reach this stage. You may still be able to negotiate a settlement with your funder, for example, or even have your confession of judgment vacated. The latter may require proving that the terms required to trigger the confession of judgment were never meant. It’s also possible for the borrower to be negligent in making it clear that you’re signing important rights away when they initially presented the confession of judgment to you. Be sure to speak with a lawyer to find out what solutions are possible in your case and your state.

How Do I Avoid Signing A Confession Of Judgement?

While personal guarantees are pretty common in the alternative lending market, confessions of judgment are significantly less so. It’s generally funders that deal with high-risk borrowers who will employ them, and even then they may not require them for every borrower. If your funder tries to get you to sign one, make sure you’ve exhausted all your other options before waiving your legal rights and putting your personal assets at risk.

Even if your credit rating or the age of your business has limited your options to merchant cash advances, you can still take your business to a funder who won’t lock you into quite so punishing terms.

Need some other options? We can get you started.

Lender Borrowing Amount Term Interest/Factor Rate Req. Time in Business Min. Credit Score Next Steps

$5K – $500K 13 – 52 weeks x1.029 – x1.1872 9 months 550 Apply Now

$5K – $500K 3 – 36 months x1.003 – x1.04/mo 12 months 500 Apply Now

$2K – $5M Varies As low as 2% 6 months 550 Apply Now

$20K – $500K 1 – 4 years 7.99% – 29.99% APR 2 years 660 Apply Now

The post What Is A Confession of Judgment? Should I Sign One? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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19 Reasons To Get A Business Loan (And How To Get Started)

business loan reasons

There are so many good reasons to get a business loan that you probably haven’t even considered half of them. For example, have you ever thought about taking out a loan to hire a new employee or getting a loan for the sole purpose of building your business’s credit? Those are both valid reasons to apply for business financing, and there are many other reasons that might not have ever crossed your mind.

While many small businesses are debt-averse — afraid to apply for financing because they don’t think they have good enough credit, or unsure if they can afford repayments — it’s a simple fact that you need money to make money. In some ways, living debt-free can actually hinder your business’s growth or even its ability to stay afloat. You might also be surprised at the wide variety of financing products available for almost any type of business pursuit.

Even if you’ve never applied for financing before, a business loan is definitely something to think about if you are short on funds or are considering a new opportunity or investment that could advance your business.

Read on for a look at 19 reasons you might want to take out a business loan.

Or, skip down to the “Types of Business Loans” section to see if what type of loan you should pursue for your particular business need.

1. Start A Business

Want to get your brand-new business off the ground with a running start? A startup loan can help you do just that. A few startup-friendly lenders will lend to brand-new businesses with no time in business, while others will want to see that you have 6 months’ worth of revenue.

However, startup loans are not by any means easy to get for spanking new businesses lacking in experience, especially if your business is still in the “idea stage.” If this sounds like you, you might consider a crowdfunded loan or small business grant in lieu of traditional financing.

2. Increase Working Capital

Working capital—the money required for day-to-day business operations—is a big reason businesses might need to apply for financing. For myriad reasons, your business may simply be short on cash. Sporadic cash flow, business growth spurts, and seasonal sales fluctuations are just a few reasons businesses apply for a working capital loan.

In many circumstances, you might not know exactly how much money you need, but expect you’ll need some extra working capital in the near future. In such cases, you might be wise to apply for a short-term business line of credit that you can draw from as needed.

3. Purchase Inventory

Businesses new and old, large and small, commonly apply for financing to cover the cost of purchasing inventory or raw materials to make products. A healthy inventory allows you to have enough product on-hand to meet demand and keep customers happy.

Retail businesses, in particular, often require financing to replenish stocks, particularly is your store sees a big sales up-tick during certain seasons. For example, a company that sells a popular holiday gift might take out a short-term loan to purchase product ahead of the holiday season, and then repay that loan with the proceeds of their seasonal sales.

4. Purchase Equipment

Almost all businesses require equipment of some sort — especially businesses involved in manufacturing, as well as those in the food and service industries. Whether you need professional gym equipment or even a business vehicle, such assets can represent a major expense to a new, struggling, or expanding business.

Purchasing equipment may necessitate a business loan, or perhaps you’d rather charge it on your business credit card if your credit limit is high enough. One popular way to buy business equipment is equipment financing, as this type of loan typically does not require any collateral other than the equipment itself.

5. Hire New Talent

According to the National Small Business Association, data going back as far back as 1993 shows a strong connection between businesses’ ability to hire employees and their ability to get financing. Indeed, payroll is a significant expense businesses must contend with, including not just wages, but healthcare and other benefits, as well as employee training. In some cases, businesses even have to reduce their number of employees or scale back employee benefits if they don’t have sufficient access to financing.

While taking out a loan to hire someone is always a risk, it’s true that employees are a business’s greatest asset; if the employee is worth their salt, they will eventually justify the expense of the loan.

6. Expand Products/Services

Businesses in the growth stage, as well as stable businesses trying to increase revenues and/or stay competitive with peers, will need to expand their offerings from time to time. Regardless of how you’re going to achieve a product or service expansion, an installment loan or another type of business loan can help you make the necessary investments to keep your offerings fresh and relevant.

7. Open A New Location

Your business is growing fast and you need to open a new location. Expanding to a new location is a major undertaking requiring a lot of capital, but one that can pay off tremendously in time.

If you have at least two years’ time in business, you may be eligible for a long-term business expansion loan with low interest rates. Businesses purchasing real estate to open a new location be eligible for a commercial real estate mortgage such as those offered by the SBA through the  SBA CDC/504 program. There is even such a thing as real estate crowdfunding for businesses.

Or, say you own an online business and want to establish your first physical location, you might consider a startup loan to help get your new operations up and running.

8. Pay Taxes

Ideally, you will set aside enough money throughout the year to pay your business taxes when the tax man comes a knockin’. But alas, life doesn’t always work out that way, which is why small businesses frequently take out loans to pay taxes.

Rather than get in trouble with the IRS for not paying your taxes, you are much better off using a business loan or even a cash advance to pay your taxes.

9. Create A Safety Net

A safety net is a cash or credit “cushion” you can use to fall back on during slim times. Perhaps you own a seasonal business or simply have cash-flow problems from time to time; even though you don’t require any extra working capital at the present moment, you feel good knowing it’s available if and when you need it.

You’re probably especially aware of the need for a safety net if you’ve been caught without one in the past, and had to pay overdraft bank fees or get an expensive short-term loan to cover unforeseen shortfalls.

A revolving line of credit, working capital loan, or even a business credit card can all help provide a safety net for a future rainy day. If there are no rainy days on the immediate horizon, you will have some peace of mind knowing you’re prepared for anything.

10. Refinance Another Loan

While it may seem strange to take out a loan to pay off another loan, debt refinancing is a popular and sometimes necessary reason to take out a business loan. You might choose to refinance your business debt because you are offered a loan with better rates and fees, or you might choose to consolidate multiple loans into one loan.

If you’re considering refinancing a loan you are currently paying on, check out our Complete Guide To Refinancing Small Business Debt.

11. Buy A Business

A business acquisition loan, or a loan to buy a business, is another popular category of business loans. You can take out this kind of loan to expand your current business’s offerings with the purchase of another business, or to buy a business even if you don’t have an existing business (in which case you will probably need a startup loan).

Depending on your business credentials, the health of the business you want to purchase, and other factors, you may be able to get a business acquisition loan through a bank or the SBA. You might also finance your business purchase through a business expansion loan or a startup loan from an online lender. There are also franchise loans available to individuals looking to purchase a new or existing franchise.

12. Buy Out A Partner

business loan vs personal loan

Sometimes it just doesn’t work out with a business partner. But just because your partner agrees to be bought out doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily have the money to do so. In these circumstances, you can get a business loan to execute a partner buyout.

There is not really a specific type of loan for partner buyouts but you can use many standard business loans for this purpose, including an SBA standard 7(a) loan.

13. Cover Construction Costs

Perhaps you want to expand or improve your physical business location(s) with renovations or improvements, or maybe you want to construct a brand-new building for your business. Either way, a commercial real estate loan—also called a commercial mortgage or commercial construction loan—is the type of financing you need.

You can use a commercial construction loan, typically obtained through a bank or credit union, to pay for construction costs such as labor, materials, and land development. Hard money loans are another option to pay for business construction.

14. Cover Unpaid Invoices

Businesses with a lot of outstanding invoices can free up pending earnings using a type of loan called invoice factoring.

The financer fronts you the money that your customers owe you, and then you repay them as the customers pay off their debts. With this type of financing, your business does not necessarily need to have good credit, as the invoice factor is more concerned with your customers’ credentials than with your business’s.

15. Buy Insurance

Insurance is a major business expense. Business insurance requirements vary by state and industry. Liability insurance, property insurance, employee healthcare insurance, malpractice insurance, and flood insurance are just a few types of insurance your business might need. For certain business loans, you even need insurance in order to get the loan in the first place. For example, you may need life insurance and various other types of insurance to qualify for an SBA loan.

While, ideally, insurance costs will be included in your budget as a percentage of your gross sales, a business loan or line of credit can help your business pay your insurance policy during times you cannot afford to do so.

16. Cover An Unexpected Expense

Remember that safety net we talked about earlier? Well if you don’t have it, you could have no choice but to take out a loan after-the-fact to cover an unexpected business expense that you didn’t budget for. This could be anything from replacing some expensive equipment that failed unexpectedly to making repairs after a natural disaster. Fortunately, an emergency business loan can help your business cover the expense of just about anything life can throw at ya.

17. Advertise Your Business

Marketing/advertising is a business expense that can cost a lot of money upfront but will hopefully pay off in the long run. SEO and online advertising, commercials, billboard advertising, radio ads, and promotional materials are all types of marketing for which you could need a loan, especially if you’re hiring a marketing agency to try to achieve big results.

18. Build Credit

A lot of small businesses don’t have much of a business credit history, even though the business owner herself might have good credit. Taking out a business loan is one way of establishing a business credit history rather than using your personal credit for your business. Building business credit will allow you to separate your personal and business credit profiles, and will also put you in a good position if you need to ask for a business loan in the future.

For more information on this and other ways to build your business credit history read my Ultimate Guide To Improving Your Business Credit Score.

19. Take Advantage Of A Business Opportunity

Every now and again, your business may be presented with an awesome opportunity that is just too good to pass by—even if you can’t afford the whole thing up front. Business success requires a lot of pragmatism and planning, but there is also some degree of risk-taking and, dare I say it, magic. Whatever that special something is, if you get a “spidey sense” that a certain opportunity will help take your business to the next level, it can pay off handsomely to trust your intuition and go out on a limb to make that investment.

Of course, going out on a limb in this case likely means taking out a business loan. Just make sure you’re not so focused on the opportunity that you rush things and say yes to the first loan offer you come across. It’s absolutely essential to compare multiple loan offers to make sure you are getting the best deal.

Types of Business Loans

I’ve discussed many types of business loans in this post, and it can be confusing to sort through all the different loan categories if you don’t know what you need. To help simplify things, I’ve made a chart with brief explanations of different loan types discussed, and below that, I included longer descriptions of some popular loans you should know about.

Resource Description

Startup Loan

Financing for businesses 6 months old or younger.

Crowdfunded Loan

Funds sourced from a network of backers or investors. 

Small Business Grant

Free funds granted to businesses, normally for a specific project. 

Working Capital Loan

Financing to cover daily operating expenses of running a business.

Business Line of Credit

A credit facility from which your business can borrow money at any time. 

Short-Term Loan

Usually a higher-interest loan that you pay back quickly, typically within a year. 

Business Credit Card

Credit card used for business expenses.

Equipment Financing

Self-securing loan to finance major equipment purchases.

Installment Loan

A standard type of business loan also called a term loan, repaid in regularly scheduled installments.

Long-Term Business Expansion Loan

Usually a large, low-interest loan, repaid over 5 or more years.

Real Estate Crowdfunding

Crowdfunded capital to purchase real estate for a business.

Merchant Cash Advance

Expensive but quick source of business financing for merchants who need fast funds.

Business Acquisition Loan

Loan to purchase a business.

Franchise Loan

Loan to open a new franchise or purchase an existing franchise.

SBA 7(a) Loan

Standard business loan backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Commercial Real Estate Loan

Long-term loan to purchase commercial real estate for a business.

Hard Money Loan

Shorter-term real estate loan similar to a mortgage, requiring the property you’re purchasing as collateral. 

Invoice Factoring

Service which converts your small business’s outstanding invoices to cash.

Emergency Business Loan

Fast loans to cover business funding emergencies. 

Installment Loan

Term loans, also called “installment loans” are a broad category of business loans. This type of funding is paid back in periodic installments, with interest. It may be a short- or long-term loan. Higher-quality term loans typically give you a longer amount of time to repay the loan, and let you pay via monthly installments (vs. weekly or daily installments with short-term loans). However, you will need at least 2 years in business, plus good credit and strong revenues, to qualify for a long-term business loan, particularly if you borrow from a bank; online lenders have less strict requirements.

Long- and medium-term loans are useful for established businesses making long-term investments in fixed assets like property or renovations, though they can also be used for working capital.

You can get term loans from a bank or credit union, though the lenders below offer reasonably quick installment loans as well:

Lender Borrowing Amount Term Req. Time in Business Min. Credit Score Next Steps

smartbiz logo

$30K – $350K 10 – 25 years 2 years 650 Apply Now

$2K – $5M Varies 6 months 550 Apply Now

$25K – $500K 6 months – 5 years 2 years 620 Compare

lending club logo

$5K – $300K 1 – 5 years 12 months 600 Compare

Short-Term Loan

Short-term business loans—installment loans that are repaid in 3 years or less, or sometimes in a matter of months—usually come in smaller amounts with higher rates when compared to long-term loans. Short-term loans also tend to require weekly or daily repayments. Although they are more expensive and less desirable than long-term loans in a lot of ways, short-term loans are relatively fast and easy to get and don’t have as stringent borrower requirements in terms of credit score, income, or time in business.

Because they have such a short repayment schedule, short-term loans are good for short-term problems, such as one-time expenses/investments.

The following lenders offer good terms and reasonable rates if you need a short-term loan:

Lender Borrowing Amount Term Interest/Factor Rate Req. Time in Business Min. Credit Score Next Steps

$5K – $500K 13 – 52 weeks x1.029 – x1.1872 9 months 550 Apply Now

$5K – $300K 6, 9, 12, 15, or 18 months x1.15 – x1.31 1 year 600 Apply Now

$5K – $500K 3 – 36 months x1.003 – x1.04/mo 12 months 500 Apply Now

$2K – $5M Varies As low as 2% 6 months 550 Apply Now

Merchant Cash Advance

Merchant cash advances are not technically loans; rather, they are advances on your future sales or revenue. With a cash advance, you’ll receive a lump sum, which you’ll then begin repaying out of your daily credit card sales.  The interest charged on MCAs is usually calculated in terms of a factor rate rather than interest rate—for example, you might have a factor rate of 1.3, which means you’ll have to repay 1.3x the amount you borrowed. A typical factor rate for an MCA is between 1.2 and 1.4.

An MCA is good for an emergency situation where you need a large sum of money quickly and/or have bad credit, but you have a healthy daily cash flow. It does not help you build business credit because it’s not actually a loan and these lenders don’t usually report to credit agencies.

Generally, we don’t recommend MCAs if you’re eligible for another type of financing, but the following cash advance providers are reputable:

Lender Borrowing Amount Min Credit Score Time To Funding Next Steps

$5K – $500K 550 1-3 Days Apply Now

$2K – $5M 550 1-2 Days Apply Now

$5K – $500K 500 2-5 Days Apply Now

$5K – $250K 500 2-5 Days Apply Now

Business Credit Card

Business credit cards are useful the same way personal credit cards are useful—they allow you to pay for large or small expenses even if you don’t have the cash on hand, while also earning you rewards and building your credit history. Of course, you can get yourself into trouble if you don’t pay off the balance in a reasonable amount of time. With that said, business credit cards are super handy for any type of business expense that doesn’t exceed your credit limit, particularly if you can find a card with a 0% introductory rate, like the ones below.

Credit Card 0% Introductory Period Next Steps
American Express Blue Business Plus 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months Compare
Chase Ink Business Unlimited 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months Apply Now
American Express SimplyCash Plus 0% APR on purchases for the first 9 months Compare
Capital One Spark Cash Select For Business 0% APR on purchases for the first 9 months Compare
Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 9 months Compare

Even if you don’t have an expense looming on the immediate horizon, a business card is just good to have in case you need it.

Business Line of Credit

A business line of credit is an amount of money available for you to draw from as needed. You only have to pay back what you borrow (plus interest). Similar to term loans, you can get a line of credit from a bank or online lender. Not unlike a business credit card, a line of credit is useful to have just in case you need to make up for any type of shortfall or gap. An LOC can come in handy especially if you have a seasonal business or a business with occasional cash flow problems. Additionally, a line of credit, like the ones offered by the lenders below, can help you build business credit.

Lender Borrowing Amount Draw Term Draw Fee APR Next Steps

$6K – $100K 6 months None Starts at 13.99% Apply Now

$2K – $5M Varies Varies Varies Apply Now

$5K – $5M 6 months 1.50% per draw 21% – 65% Apply Now

$1K – $100K 12 weeks None 12% – 54% Apply Now

Invoice Factoring

Invoice financing, sometimes called invoice factoring, is when you sell your business’s unpaid invoices to a credit facility. The facility fronts you the amount of the unpaid invoice (minus a percentage they charge as a fee), and you then repay the lender as your customers repay you. Note that you do still need to repay the lender even if your customer never pays you.

Invoice financing is a useful type of financing for businesses with a lot of unpaid invoices that want to free up some cash. The borrower requirements are usually pretty relaxed, as invoice finance companies are more concerned with your customers’ creditworthiness rather than your business’s.

Equipment Financing

Equipment financing is useful for the purchase of any type of equipment or machinery your company needs but can’t afford outright. This type of “self-securing” financing does not require any collateral other than the equipment itself, and you usually don’t need to have excellent credit or much else in the way of borrower credentials. If you default on the loan you could lose the equipment, but if you make all your payments, you will eventually own the equipment.

We recommend the following equipment financers:

Lender Borrowing Amount Term Interest/Factor Rate Additional Fees Next Steps

$2K – $5M Varies As low as 2% Varies Visit Site

$5K – $500K 24 – 72 months Starts at 5% Yes Compare

Up to $250K 1 – 72 months Starts at 5.49% Varies Compare

Do You Need A Business Loan? Next Steps

If you’ve decided you need a business loan, it’s time to take the next steps to secure one.

1. Compare the different types of small business loans discussed above and determine which type of loan best suits your need. Or, read more about common types of business loans.

2. Take a look at our free guide to small business loans.

3. Calculate how much you can afford to borrow.

4. Take a look at our favorite lenders.

Once you complete your initial research by taking these steps, you should have a very good idea of what to look for in a loan and which type or types of financing are best for your situation. You’re now ready to start applying!

To save time applying to multiple loans, you might consider using a lending matchmaker service like Lendio, which allows you to compare multiple loans tailored to your needs.

Final Thoughts

Applying for business financing can be daunting, given all the myriad types of loan products out there, and the possibility of being rejected for financing. You might also be worried about your ability to make payments on the loan.

However, if you have a good reason to apply for a business loan, there is a very decent chance that there is a lender willing to lend to you with feasible, realistic terms. With those funds, you’ll be able to address whatever needs your business has while building up your business credit profile with each repayment.

Lender Borrowing Amount Term Interest/Factor Rate Req. Time in Business Min. Credit Score Next Steps

$5K – $500K 13 – 52 weeks x1.029 – x1.1872 9 months 550 Apply Now

$5K – $300K 6, 9, 12, 15, or 18 months x1.15 – x1.31 1 year 600 Apply Now

$5K – $500K 3 – 36 months x1.003 – x1.04/mo 12 months 500 Apply Now

$2K – $5M Varies As low as 2% 6 months 550 Apply Now

The post 19 Reasons To Get A Business Loan (And How To Get Started) appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Emergency Business Loans: 7 Ways To Get Business Funding Fast

No matter how good you are at planning, it’s impossible to prepare for every possible emergency that may affect your business. Acts of God like hurricanes, floods, and fires aside, invoice payments might be late. You may have experienced a fluke sales slump. Or maybe you just need to restock before a big event next week to maximize your sales.

You’ve already shaken out your pants for loose change, so now what do you do? Where do you look for an emergency business loan?

Read on and we’ll try to help you out. Here are seven ways to get business funding fast.

1. Get A Short-Term Loan

fast business loans

If it has been a while since you last looked for financing, you’re probably imagining long, drawn-out loan applications with high credit restrictions.

Those traditionally-structured loans still exist–and tend to have excellent rates–but they’re not much help when you need money fast. An easier way for most businesses to get a lump sum of cash quickly is to get a short-term loan.

Short-term loans usually last less than a year, feature simplified (and usually online) applications, and can get cash into your account within 24 to 72 hours. Most of them don’t even require collateral in the traditional sense.

So what’s the catch? Well, you’ll probably be going through an alternative lender. That means higher rates and fewer regulatory protections than you’d find with a bank.

Because the repayment schedule is accelerated, these loans charge a flat fee instead of instead of interest. This fee is a percentage of the amount you borrowed ($10,000 x 20% = $2,000, so you’ll be on the hook for $12,000). You’ll also be paying it back much more quickly. Repayment intervals are weekly or even daily, with fixed payments automatically withdrawn from your business bank account.

Think a short-term loan is right for you? Check out the following short-term lenders:

Lender Borrowing Amount Min Credit Score Time To Funding Next Steps

$2K – $5M 550 1-2 Days Apply Now

$5K – $500K 550 1-3 Days Apply Now

$5K – $500K 500 2-5 Days Apply Now

$5K – $250K 500 2-5 Days Apply Now

2. Get A Merchant Cash Advance

how to get a merchant cash advance

I know we’re technically talking about “loans,” but if you need money quickly, you’re probably not that concerned with semantics. For the pedantic, a merchant cash advance (MCA) is the purchase of your future credit/debit card sales. So you’re technically selling something, not taking on debt. Confusing, right?

An MCA fulfills a similar niche to a short-term loan and shares a few characteristics with it. MCAs also feature simplified applications and qualifications; they’re even less governed by financial regulations than short-term loans. You’ll also usually have your money in a day or two. MCAs and short-term loans even share a flat fee approach, where the amount you owe is the amount you “borrowed” plus a percentage of that amount ($10,000 x 20% = $2,000, for a total of $12,000).

But wait, didn’t I say the MCA company was actually buying a percentage of your future receivables? How does that work? Rather than making payments, the MCA company will collect a percentage of your daily credit- and debt-based sales until they’ve collected the lump sum they gave you, plus their flat fee. Because your sales may vary from day to day, MCAs don’t have exact term lengths. If your sales are good, you’ll pay the debt off more quickly; if they’re poor, it will take longer to pay off.

Be aware, however, that MCAs are one of the most expensive ways to borrow money.

Want to explore your options? Check out the following providers of merchant cash advances:

Lender Borrowing Amount Min Credit Score Time To Funding Next Steps

$2K – $5M 550 1-2 Days Apply Now

$5K – $500K 550 1-3 Days Apply Now

$5K – $500K 500 2-5 Days Apply Now

$5K – $250K 500 2-5 Days Apply Now

3. Get An Express Bank Loan

What’s an express loan? The definition varies by lender, but in general, this is an option offered by many traditional banks. Thanks, in part, to pressure from alternative lenders, banks have made efforts to speed up the application processes of some of their products. If you need a small amount of money relatively quickly, it may be the way to go.

These loans typically aren’t short-term loans, but medium-term installment loans. That means monthly payments and interest accruing over time.

Compared to short-term loans, express loans will often have better rates but aren’t as easy to qualify for. Depending on the bank, the speed with which you can get funding may be competitive with those of alternative lenders, while others might be a little bit slower. Note that SBA Express loans, while quicker than other SBA loans, probably aren’t going to be fast enough to cover an emergency expense. On the other hand, if your emergency is the result of a regional disaster, you may want to check out SBA disaster loans.

4. Get An Installment Loan From An Alternative Lender

installment loans

Wait, aren’t installment loans–express loans notwithstanding–too slow to be much help in an emergency?

Alternative lenders don’t only deal in short-term loans and merchant cash advances. Some offer products that more closely resemble traditional installment loans. These loans feature longer-terms and regular monthly (sometimes weekly) payments.

Installment loans, even those from alternative lenders, don’t necessarily promise the 24-48 hour turnarounds that are common with short-term loans and merchant cash advances. Some do, however. And even the ones that don’t may still be fast enough to help resolve your emergency.

These alternative lenders offer loan products that might work for your situation:

Lender Borrowing Amount Term Interest/Factor Rate Req. Time in Business Min. Credit Score Next Steps

$5K – $500K 3 – 36 months x1.003 – x1.04/mo 12 months 500 Apply Now

$5K – $500K 13 – 52 weeks x1.029 – x1.1872 9 months 550 Apply Now

$2K – $5M Varies As low as 2% 6 months 550 Apply Now

$20K – $500K 1 – 4 years 7.99% – 29.99% APR 2 years 660 Apply Now

5. Use A Business Credit Card

Best merchant online credit card processing companies image

Another way to handle emergency expenses is to have lines of credit in place ahead of time. The easiest to use are probably business credit cards.

Business credit cards can be a convenient way to pay for emergencies, provided the emergency costs are on the smaller side and can be paid with plastic. A balance that sits on your card month after month will quickly become more expensive than a loan. On the other hand, if you’re able to pay your business credit card off in full within your grace period (usually 20-25 days after you make the purchase), you won’t owe any interest at all. Better yet, you can take advantage of the rewards programs most of these cards offered.

Avoid taking out a cash advance with your credit card, though, as the fees and interest rates on those transactions make them a very expensive way to bail your business out.

Looking for a business credit card? Chase Bank offers some of the best options for small business:

Card Card Name Annual Fee Introductory Rate Rewards Next Steps

Chase Ink Business Preferred℠

$95 None
  • 3 points per $1 on travel, shipping, internet/cable/phone, and internet advertising (max $150,000 per year)
  • 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
Apply Now

Chase Ink Business Cash℠

$0 0% APR for the first 12 months
  • 5% cash back on internet/phone/cable and purchases at office supply stores (max $25,000 per year)
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations (max $25,000 per year)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Apply Now

Chase Ink Business Unlimited℠

$0 0% APR for the first 12 months
  • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Apply Now

6. Set Up A Line Of Credit

Business credit cards aren’t the only way to set up an “insurance policy” against unplanned expenses. In fact, they may not even be the best way, especially if you encounter expenses you can’t easily pay for with a card.

Banks and some alternative lenders offer business lines of credit. A revolving line of credit is a lot like a credit card (technically a credit card is a revolving line of credit, but not all revolving lines of credit are credit cards. Make sense?). Your lender will approve your business for a certain amount of credit, for a certain period of time, typically a year. During that time, you can draw upon your line of credit in any increments you want so long as the total amount you’ve drawn doesn’t exceed your credit limit. You only make payments and owe interest on the amount of credit you’re using. As you pay off your balance, that credit becomes available to use again. A non-revolving line of credit works the same way, except that once you use your credit, it does not become available again after you pay it off.

Some lines of credit are easier to use than others. Depending on your lender, you may have to pay a draw fee each time you withdraw cash. Some lenders charge annual, or even monthly, fees to maintain your line of credit. It’s not uncommon for banks to link a line of credit to a Visa or Mastercard, allowing you to use it almost exactly like a credit card. Some lenders may let you write checks against your line, while others will necessitate a cash transfer from your line to, say, a checking account.

The following lenders offer lines of credit to businesses at reasonable rates:

Lender Borrowing Amount Draw Term Draw Fee APR Next Steps

$6K – $100K 6 months None Starts at 13.99% Apply Now

$2K – $5M Varies Varies Varies Apply Now

$5K – $5M 6 months 1.50% per draw 21% – 65% Apply Now

$1K – $100K 12 weeks None 12% – 54% Apply Now

7. Use Invoice Factoring

Do what now? A quick and unorthodox way to get emergency financing without putting yourself at too much risk is invoice factoring. Factoring companies will purchase your unpaid invoices for around 80 percent of their face value, minus a small fee. It’s essentially getting an advance on your invoices by signing them over to a third party.

What about the remaining 20 percent? The factoring company will pay you that balance when the invoice is paid by your customer.

The catch is that you’ll need to have unpaid invoices in hand for invoice factoring to be of any use to you.

If you think invoice factoring might be the right choice for your business emergency, we recommend starting with a reputable company like BlueVine.

Get Started With BlueVine

Final Thoughts

It’s easier than ever to get emergency funding for your business. The trick is making sure you get it on the schedule you need, at a rate you can afford.

Not sure where to start looking?

We can help you out.

Loan Type What Is It? Typical Time To Funding

Short-Term Business Loans

Loans disbursed in one lump sum and repaid in periodic, fixed installments. Fees for borrowing are determined by a factor rate.

2 – 5 days

Online Lines of Credit

Credit lines from which the business can draw funds at any time, without going through an application process.

2 – 7 days for the initial application; 1 – 2 days for funds when the credit line is secured

Invoice Financing

Financing in which the business’s unpaid invoices are leveraged to access business funds.

2 – 5 days

Bridge Loans

Fast business loans used to fulfill funding needs until slower financing comes in.

2 – 7 days

Traditional Installment Loans

Loans disbursed in one lump sum and repaid in periodic, fixed installments. Borrowing fees are determined by an interest rate.

1 – 3 weeks

Business Credit Cards

Credit lines for everyday business expenses.

About 7 days

SBA Disaster Loans

Loans offered by the SBA to businesses that have been affected by a disaster.

7 – 21 days

The post Emergency Business Loans: 7 Ways To Get Business Funding Fast appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Commercial Loans: Types, Rates, And Where To Find The Best

Have you seen the term “commercial loans” in an ad from a bank or alternative lender and wondered what, exactly, that meant? Or where you’d look for one? Or what the terms of a commercial loan might be?

We’re here to help!

What Are Commercial Loans?

A commercial loan is simply a financial agreement made between a financial institution or private lender and a business (as opposed to an individual) where the business takes on debt in exchange for capital. This money can then be used for business expenses, inventory, or operating costs. Though individual institutions may use the phrase a little differently, commercial loan is more or less a synonym for “business loan.”

Commercial loans aren’t specific types of loans but are rather a category of loans or loan-like products that lenders offer to businesses.

Who Offers Commercial Loans?

While they’re not the only game in town anymore, banks are still one of the best sources of lending available to businesses that fall within their territory. Lending standards are still fairly tight compared to those before the 2008 financial crisis, however, so bank loans may be out of reach for newer businesses or those with bad credit. Still, if you’re looking for the most competitive rates, you’ll probably find them at a bank.

Filling the niche missed by traditional lending institutions is the private, alternative lending market. These lenders tend to have easier qualifications and quicker applications. Additionally, most have more of a national focus, which is helpful if your business is located in an underserved area. The trade-off is usually, though not always, higher rates and stricter repayment regimens since these loans represent investment opportunities in the form of private capital rather than banking services.

What Types Of Commercial Loans Are Available?

This is where it gets interesting and more complex. If you’re entering the market just looking for a “loan” you may quickly be overwhelmed by the terminology, buzzwords, and marketing gimmicks. On top of that, individual lenders will brand their financial products, making it harder to make a 1:1 comparison between different company’s offerings.

The good news is, once you cut away all the gimmicks, there aren’t that many different types of products to wrap your head around.

Term/Installment Loans

Sometimes called medium or long-term loans, term loans what most people think of when they hear the word “loan.” In most cases, a business that successfully applies for a term loan will receive a lump sum of cash which can then be used for business expenses. In some cases, there may be restrictions on what the money can be used for. These loans will generally last between one and 10 years, accruing interest along the way. The longer the term, the more expensive the loan will be.

In most cases, you’ll make fixed, monthly payments to your lender. The loan is considered paid off when you’ve paid back the money you’ve borrowed plus interest.

Short-Term Loans

Isn’t a short-term loan just another type of term loan? You’d think so, but short-term loans are actually pretty different than their medium- and long-term cousins. Short-term loans don’t last that long,  as the name would suggest — usually less than a year — so they don’t have time to accumulate a lot of interest. Because of that, most short-term loans charge a flat fee rather than a true interest rate. This flat fee may be expressed as a percentage (18%) or as a multiplier (1.18). In either case, to figure out how much your flat fee is in dollars, simply multiply that number by the amount you’re borrowing.

Short-term loans are both faster and more expensive than other term loans, featuring expedited application processes. Unfortunately, your repayments are also sped up, with fixed payments made weekly or even daily. These payments are almost always automatically deducted from your bank account. As in the case of term loans, these payments are fixed (with some rare exceptions).

SBA Loans

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal agency tasked with promoting and assisting American small businesses. The term SBA loan is a little bit misleading because the SBA doesn’t usually originate their own loans. Instead, they work through banks and privates lenders, guaranteeing a percentage of the borrower’s debt. This reduces the risk to the lender and allows businesses to qualify for rates and terms they may otherwise be unable to get.

The two most popular programs are the SBA 7(a) and the CDC/504. The 7(a) loan is the more popular of the two. It covers typical working capital expenses as well as site improvements and business acquisitions. 504 loans are oriented more around economic development.

The major drawback to SBA loans is that they have a longer and more complicated application process than similar term loans. While SBA Express loans speed up the process a bit, don’t expect to have the money in your account right away.

Equipment Loans

If you plan on buying equipment with your loan, you may want to consider an equipment loan. Equipment loans look a lot like term loans, but rather than being open-ended are specifically used to cover a percentage (85% is typical) of the cost of a specific piece of equipment.

Why would you want this?

Equipment loans use the equipment you’re purchasing as collateral, meaning you get the benefits (lower rates, longer terms) of a secured loan without putting up any of your own assets.

Lines Of Credit

Not sure how much money you’ll need in the coming year? Do you anticipate needing to make a large number of small purchases over a period of time? Do you just want to have something to fall back on in an emergency?

When you get a business line of credit, your company is approved up to a certain credit limit (a line of credit is very similar to a business credit card in that respect). Let’s say you’re approved for $100,000. You can draw upon that line of credit any number of times, in any amount you want, until you’ve accumulated $100,000 worth of debt. You only pay interest on the amount of credit you’ve used. This makes lines of credit far more versatile than other types of loans.

If the line of credit is revolving, any balance you pay off becomes available for use again. If it’s a non-revolving line of credit, it’s a one-shot deal. You can still withdraw in increments, but once the credit is used, it won’t become available again.

This convenience tends to come at a premium. Lines of credit usually have higher qualifications than loans, and many come with annual or even draw fees. They usually feature variable monthly payments, although some offer no-interest grace periods.

Alternative Financing

These products aren’t loans, commercial or otherwise, but you’re probably going to run into them if you’re looking for commercial loans. Here’s a quick rundown so you won’t be caught off-guard.

Merchant cash advances (MCAs) are an alternative way to get working capital. Rather than lending you money, the funder buys a percentage of your future credit/debit card sales. MCAs fill a similar niche to short-term loans. You’ll still get a lump sum, be charged a flat fee, and make daily payments. But rather than imposing fixed payments, your funder will claim a percentage of your daily card sales. Because MCAs aren’t loans, they aren’t governed by laws affecting loans. This allows them to be offered to riskier “borrowers,” and at a higher rate.

Capital leases are an alternative to equipment loans. Though the word “lease” suggests renting, they’re actually designed with ownership in mind. In exchange for a higher interest rate, you’ll get the full cost of the equipment covered. Like you would with a term loan, you’ll pay a capital lease off monthly. At the end of the lease, there will be a small remainder (as low as a $1) you’ll need to pay to close the transaction. This is called a “residual.”

Invoice factoring is a way to get an advance on your accounts receivable by selling them to a factoring company at a small loss. That company then collects on the invoice in your place. You’ll be paid the majority of the invoice’s value as a lump sum up front, with the remainder paid out to you — minus a fee — when (and if) the factoring company collects on the invoice.

Qualifying For A Commercial Loan

An easy way to narrow down your options is to eliminate any options for which you do not qualify. This will save you time and, potentially, money. Qualifications will vary from lender to lender, but these are the main things you’ll want to consider.

Credit Rating

There’s no way to completely get around it: your credit rating matters when you’re looking for financing. The question is “how much does it matter?”

For the more conservative lenders, your credit rating is a line in the sand. If you don’t meet their minimum standard, they simply won’t work with you. For traditional banks and SBA loans, that line is usually somewhere in the mid-to-high 600s.

With alternative lending, the guidelines aren’t so hard and fast. Some lenders impose minimums below which they absolutely will not go, but others don’t use credit scores for rule-out criteria.

That said, pretty much every lender, traditional or alternative, will use your credit history to determine what kind of rates you’re offered.

Time In Business

Lenders are going to want to know that your business is real and has staying power. A business that’s been afloat for five years inspires more confidence that one that is three months out from opening.

That said, not everyone is looking for the same thing. A traditional bank may want to see two to three years in business before they’re willing to take a risk on you. An online short-term lender may only be looking for six months — or even three months, in some cases.

Revenue

Any reasonable lender is going to want to know that you’re capable of paying them back. Even alternative lenders with loose credit prerequisites, especially those dealing in unsecured loans, will want to see your bank statements to get a sense of your cash flow. The more revenue you regularly take in, the more credit your prospective lender will be willing to extend you.

Location & Industry

This one’s out of your control, but the lender you’re looking at may not lend to businesses in your industry or even to your state. Banks tend to lend mainly through their physical branches and may require you to have a business checking account with them. Alternative lenders operate primarily online, but due to differences in lending regulations between states may not be able to lend to you, or may not be able to offer all their products.

Collateral

If you’re seeking a secured loan or line of credit, you’ll need to be able to put up collateral to secure your funding. What qualifies as collateral varies between lender and product, ranging from cash deposits to inventory, equipment, or real estate. Make sure you can put up the necessary collateral.

What To Look For In A Commercial Loan

Qualifying isn’t enough. It’s important that a lender meets your standards as well. So what should you look for?

Borrowing Limits

Most lenders have minimum and maximum amounts they’re willing to lend to businesses. You’ll want to be certain the lender is capable of giving you the lump sum you’re seeking. Of course, your revenue will have to be sufficient to cover your debt.

Banks are capable of offering larger amounts of money than most alternative lenders. One of the easier ways for a small business to qualify large amounts of money is through an SBA loan.

Term Lengths

How long do you need to pay your loan off? This can be a complex question; there’s no “right” answer. For any individual product, a shorter term length usually means lower interest rates than a longer one. However, paying off a loan quickly may stress your cash flow in the short-term. Having a good sense of your business’s ebb and flow before applying for any financing.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking short-term lending products come with lower interest rates or fees than long-term loans. In fact, those products tend to be among the most expensive in the industry. That said, the speed with which short-term lenders or merchant cash advance providers can get money into your hands may make them the best choice if you have time-sensitive expenses.

Rates

It goes without saying that you want to get the lowest rate you can whenever you borrow money.

APRs serve as one of the easiest ways to make direct comparisons between different products. Even though short-term loans use flat fees rather than interest rates, there are tools available to help you make the conversion.

Remember that lenders don’t always mean the same thing when they say “interest.” The percentage you see may be annual or monthly. In some cases, a flat fee may even be described as an interest rate.

Fees

Not to be confused with interest rates or flat fees, these are costs associated with the loan beyond interest rates. Not all lenders charge fees for every product, and some may have promotions that waive fees.

The most common fee you’re likely to encounter is the origination fee. Usually ranging between 1% – 4% of the amount of money you’re borrowing, this is not a fee you pay out of pocket. Instead, it is deducted from the lump sum you receive from the lender, so you’ll want to take it into account if you’re counting on every cent.

Additional fees may be charged for setting up accounts from which to withdraw automated payments, for late payments, or even just miscellaneous “administration fees.” Approach any lender who charges anything beyond an origination fee with caution and factor those costs into the amount of debt you’re taking on.

Commercial Lenders

Hopefully, we’ve answered some basic, nagging questions about what commercial loans are and how they work. With so many potential options, finding a lender can be an overwhelming prospect. Not sure where to look? We can help get you started.

Loan Type What It Is Typical Rates Learn More

Traditional Term Loans

Loans in which you borrow money in one lump sum and repay in fixed installments. Term loans can be used for most business loan purposes.

4% – 36% APR

Our top picks

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans

Loans offered by the SBA in partnership with banks and other financers. SBA loans are backed by an SBA guarantee and originated by banks and other partners. 

6% – 12% APR

Our top pick

Commercial Real Estate Loans

Loans used to finance the purchase or commercial real estate.

4% – 36% APR

Our top pick

Business Lines of Credit

Credit lines used for business purposes. Borrowers can draw from their credit line at any time and only pay interest on the amount borrowed. 

8% – 65% APR

Our top picks

Short-Term Loans

Business financing with short term lengths, which normally have a one-time fixed fee instead of interest.

8% – 99% APR

Our top picks

Startup Loans

Loans used to finance the costs of starting a business.

4% – 36% APR

Our top picks

Equipment Loans

Loans used to purchase equipment. The purchased equipment is normally used as collateral to back the loan. 

5% – 24% APR

Our top picks

The post Commercial Loans: Types, Rates, And Where To Find The Best appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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How To Get Small Business Loans For Restaurants

Restaurants have a (somewhat unfair) reputation for being especially risky businesses that are hard to get off the ground. The good news is that restaurant business loans aren’t especially hard to find, even if you’re looking for a loan to open a restaurant.

Want to know how to get restaurant financing or a loan to open a restaurant? Below, we’ll look at how to finance your restaurant with working capital. If you’re specifically looking to finance restaurant equipment, check out our companion post on restaurant equipment leasing.

Comparison Chart

fundation logo
Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review
Borrowing Amount  $10K – $5M $10K – $5M $2K – $100K $20K – $500K $1K – $5M
Term Length Varies by product Varies by product 3 – 36 months 1 – 4 years Varies by product
Required Time In Business Varies by product Varies by product 1 years 12 months 6 months
Required Sales $1.50 for every $1 borrowed $100K/yr $10K/mo
Required Credit Score 640 670 620  660 550

 

kiva logo avant logo
Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review
Borrowing Amount  $5K – $500K $5K – $500K $6K – $5M $25 – $10K $1K – $35K
Term Length 3 – 36 months 13 – 52 weeks 6 – 12 months 3 – 36 months 2 – 5 years
Required Time In Business 6 months 9 months 6 months N/A N/A
Required Sales $10K/mo $42K/yr $120K/yr N/A N/A
Required Credit Score 550 550 600  N/A 600

Where To Get Restaurant Business Loans

Most traditional and alternative lenders, at least on paper, offer restaurant lending services. Typically, your ideal option for restaurant funding is a bank or credit union with whom you have an established relationship. In most cases, they’ll offer the best rates and terms.

If you or your business are too risky for a traditional lender, however, there are still restaurant financing options in the form of alternative lenders.

The Cost Of Restaurant Financing

Before we look at your restaurant funding options, you want to be able to compare the offers you might come across.

Here are some of the data points to consider when comparing restaurant loans:

  • Term Length: The amount of time you have to pay back your loan. The longer the term, the higher your interest or factor rate will usually be.
  • Interest/Factor Rate: A percentage or decimal multiplier that determines the amount of money you have to pay back. For short-term loans, this may be a flat fee rather than accumulate over time.
  • Origination Fee: This is a closing fee some lenders charge in addition to interest. It’s either a percentage of the amount you’re borrowing (1% – 5% is typical) or a flat fee. In most cases, it will be deducted from the amount of money you receive from the lender.
  • Administration Fee: This is a fee charged to maintain or set up your account. It may be a percentage or a flat fee. Sometimes charged in place of an origination fee.
  • APR: Annual percentage rate represents what your effective interest rate over a year would be. This can help you determine how expensive a product is relative to another.
  • Payment Schedule: If you’re used to monthly billing, you may be surprised to hear that some lenders expect payments weekly or even daily. May sure you’re prepared for whatever terms you accept.
  • Collateral: An asset, property, or cash deposit used to secure a loan. Not all loans require collateral.

Types Of Restaurant Business Loans

Restaurant loans and related products come in a few different forms. When you’re looking for a lender, you’ll also want an idea of the type of financial product you’re seeking. All of these products will get you the money you’re seeking, but with different terms. Some are cheaper; others are more versatile. Some are more available to applicants with bad credit.

  • Term Loans: Term loans are for a specific amount that, once received, is paid off in regularly scheduled installments (they’re also sometimes called installment loans). Medium and long-term loans usually accrue interest over time while short-term loans have flat fees.
  • Lines Of Credit: Lines of credit are a bit like credit cards. You’ll be approved for credit up to a set limit. You can draw on your account as often as you want as long as you stay below your limit, paying interest only on the outstanding balance.
  • SBA Loans: As is the case for other business types, there are Small Business Administration loans for restaurants. These loans are partially guaranteed by the SBA, allowing you to access better rates. Just bear in mind that the application process is usually more complicated and often slower.
  • Merchant Cash Advance: MCAs aren’t technically loans, but can serve as the financial product of last resort for businesses with bad credit but steady credit card revenue.
  • Equipment Leasing: If you’re looking to finance restaurant equipment, you also have the option to lease it, which you can read about in more detail in our restaurant equipment financing article.

Restaurant Loans For Start-Ups

If you’re looking for start-up restaurant financing, you’ll face a narrower band of options, but you aren’t completely out of luck. Conservative lenders may still consider approving a loan to start a restaurant if you have a good business plan and credit and are able to put some of your own money into the mix. Additionally, some alternative lenders offer loans specifically geared toward brand new businesses.

Restaurant Loan Providers

Not sure where to start looking for small business loans for restaurants? Here are some lenders to consider.

For Good Rates

Wells Fargo

Borrower Requirements:
• Credit score of 640 or higher
Read Our Review

 

As big banks go, Wells Fargo is one of the easier institutions for small businesses to work with. Due to their size and resources, they can offer a wide range of products for restaurants of any size. Their credit restrictions are higher than those of most of alternative lenders and they require you to show strong month-to-month revenue, but they’re more accessible than many of their conservative competitors.

Chase

Borrower Requirements:
• Excellent credit
Read Our Review

 

Chase has a reputation for offering some of the best business loan rates out there. The trick will be qualifying for them. Despite its size and prominence, Chase is very conservative about who they lend to. You’ll also need to have a branch near you as you’ll need to go to your local branch to apply.

StreetShares

Borrower Requirements:
• 1 year in business
• 620 credit score
Get Started With StreetShares

Read Our Review

 

If you don’t have a bank in your area with whom you’ve built a good relationship, you can still find good rates with online lenders. StreetShares is a bit more selective than many of their competitors, but they offer loans and lines of credits at reasonable rates with no collateral.

Fundation

fundation logo
Borrower Requirements:
• 1 year in business
• 660 credit score
• $100K/yr
Get Started With Fundation

Read Our Review

 

Fundation is another option for borrowers with good credit who would prefer (or have) to avoid dealing with a traditional bank. Fundation offers both installment loans and lines of credit with no collateral needed. Just be prepared for a slightly lengthier application process than you’ll typically experience with alternative lenders.

For Borrowers With Bad Credit

Lendio 

Borrower Requirements:
• 6 months in business
• 550 credit score
• $10K/month
Get Started With Lendio

Read Our Review

 

Lendio is an online lending platform that matches businesses with lending partners. This is a handy service for restaurant owners who don’t have a lot of time to compare loans on their own, or who have bad credit. Lendio’s pool of potential lenders is big enough that you’re more likely than not to find one willing to work with you, even if you haven’t been in business very long. If you’re looking for a loan to open a restaurant, however, you may have to look elsewhere.

OnDeck

Borrower Requirements:
• 12 months in business
• 500 credit or higher
• $100K/year
Get Started With OnDeck 

Read Our Review

OnDeck is one of the bigger names in alternative online lending and a solid choice for borrowers with poor credit but decent cash flow. Just be aware that their factor rates use a per month formula rather than a flat fee, which can make them a little bit difficult to compare to many of their competitors.

OnDeck offers installment loans and lines of credit.

LoanBuilder

Borrower Requirements:
• 9 months in business
• 550 credit or higher
• $42,000K/year
Get Started With LoanBuilder 

Read Our Review

LoanBuilder doesn’t offer as many products as some of the other lenders on the list, but they do give you the freedom to tweak the terms of a short-term loan to your liking. Combined with relatively low qualifications and integration with PayPal’s infrastructure, working with them should be pretty painless.

BlueVine

Borrower Requirements:
• 3 months in business
• 530 credit or higher
• $100,000K/year
Get Started With BlueVine 

Read Our Review

If your company is profitable, but you haven’t been in business long enough to build up a good credit score, BlueVine might be the lender for you. Rather than offering installment loans, BlueVine gives you the option of getting a line of credit or, if you do a lot of B2B business, invoice factoring. Just be aware that their lines of credit aren’t available in every state.

For Borrowers Starting Their Restaurant

Kiva

kiva logo
Borrower Requirements:
• A strong professional and social network
Read Our Review

 

If you’re coming up blank with ideas about how to get a loan to start a restaurant, Kiva is one possible solution. Kiva is a nonprofit microlender that operates worldwide. Rather than measure your income and credit, Kiva uses a process called “social underwriting” to measure your community standing and character. Best of all, the loans have zero interest.

So what’s the catch? Well, Kiva uses a type of crowdfunding to finance your loan, which means you’ll be waiting longer to get your funds than you would with most other lenders. You’ll also be limited to a maximum of $10,000, which may not cut it for your business plan. If you have some of your own money to put into your new business and just need to make up that last few thousand dollars, though, it’s worth a look.

Avant

avant logo
Borrower Requirements:
• Credit score of 600 or higher
Read Our Review

 

Another way around the time in business restrictions you’ll often encounter when seeking new restaurant business loans is to forget the “business” part and get a personal loan. While you won’t be able to borrow the large amounts that you can with a business loan, they can get you a modest ($1,000 – $35,000) amount of money with which to start a restaurant.

Note that you’ll still have to show a strong income relative to the amount of money you’re seeking. Additionally, Avant cannot currently lend to individuals in Colorado, Iowa, Vermont, or West Virginia.

Final Thoughts

If you didn’t find what you were looking in our examples above, don’t fret! We’ve barely scratched the surface of the resources restaurants can tap to find funding. If you don’t have much in the way of collateral, you can try to get an unsecured business loan.

If you’re looking to finance restaurant equipment, check out our resources on leasing and equipment loans. Good luck hunting for restaurant business loans! Do your research and you’re sure to find something that fits your needs.

The post How To Get Small Business Loans For Restaurants appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Best Free Credit Score Services

free credit score monitoring service

Having a good credit score is integral to getting goods and services at a reasonable rate. Most creditors will look pull up at least one of your scores, whether you are looking for a loan, housing, a credit card, or some other product or service.

It’s important to have at least a rough idea of your current credit score, whether that’s so you’re prepared for what creditors are going to see when they pull up your history, because you are trying to improve your score, or something else.

There are a number of different services that can help you get a good overall picture of your credit health. But which ones are the best? And what do their scores really tell you? Below, we explain exactly what credit scores are and list some of our favorite places to access your scores for free.

Read on for the details!

What Are Credit Scores?

In short, credit scores are numbers that represent your creditworthiness. Lenders, credit card issuers, and other services that expect payment, like utility companies, cell phone providers, and more, look at your credit score to see how creditworthy you’ve been in the past, which indicates how likely you are to pay on-time in the future. Personal credit scores range anywhere from 300 to 850; the higher the better.

Each creditor has their own ideas about what’s considered “good” credit, but typically if you have a score above 600, you won’t have a terribly difficult time finding creditors willing to work with you. However, the higher your credit, the more services you’ll qualify for, and the better rates you’ll receive.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have just one credit score; in fact, you have many. Credit scores are derived from your credit report — a history of your past debts, payments, and other information gathered by credit reporting agencies. The big three credit reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. While all three agencies gather similar information about you, they might not all have the same information.

A scoring algorithm, usually either VantageScore or FICO, is applied to your credit report to come up with your score. As such, consumers have many different credit scores, depending on the scoring system and the credit report your information was derived from.

VantageScore VS FICO

Credit scores are derived from your credit report using a scoring model, either VantageScore or FICO. Both have scales of 300 to 850, but they might return different scores because they place importance on different factors.

Most free credit score services get their data from VantageScore. However, many creditors will look at your FICO score. If a potential lender pulls your TransUnion FICO score, for example, they will get a different number than what you’re seeing from your free credit score service.

That said, the difference in scores doesn’t tend to be large; if you have a high FICO score, you will also have a high score from VantageScore. Conversely, if you have a poor (or inaccurate) marks on your report, they will be reflected by both VantageScore and FICO as a lower score. For general credit score monitoring, either VantageScore or FICO will suit most consumer’s purposes.

If you need to know your FICO score, for whatever reason, you have a few different options:

  • Some of your FICO scores can be accessed for free via Discover Credit Scorecard (see below). This score is derived from your Experian data.
  • Scores derived from all three credit reporting agencies can be purchased directly from FICO via myFICO. Currently, one-time access to scores from all three agencies can be purchased for $59.85 ($19.95 for scores from one agency).
  • Some credit card issuers, or other places that extend credit, will provide your scores if you are a customer.

Be aware, however, that even if you check your FICO score from the same agency that your lender does, you still might be looking at a different score. FICO offers a number of different credit scores, some of which are not available to consumers.

The Best Free Credit Score Services

The following are our favorite credit score services. These services derive scores from at least one of the three major credit reporting agencies. All offer services for free and are available to all consumers.

Credit Karma

Credit Karma was one of the first online services to offer your credit scores for free. This service offers scores and reports from two agencies: Equifax and TransUnion (both VantageScore). Scores and reports are updated weekly. They also offer free daily credit monitoring, but only for TransUnion.

Credit Karma is the only service we know of that offers free scores from two different agencies; it is also the only one that pulls data from Equifax. Additionally, it offers a number of other useful financial tools for consumers, including personalized credit card and loan recommendations, financial calculators, informative financial blog posts, and even help filing your taxes.

Discover Credit Scorecard

Discover has recently started offering free credit scores to all consumers, regardless of whether or not you are a Discover customer. This is one of the only services to offer a free FICO score; most free credit score services provide your VantageScore. Discover’s FICO score is derived from Experian, and it’s updated on a monthly basis.

Be aware, however, that because FICO offers a number of scores, the score shown on your Discover Credit Scorecard might not be the same score that your creditors are using. However, it might still be worth a look for educational and general credit monitoring purposes.

WalletHub

WalletHub offers a free score and report from TransUnion (VantageScore). This is the only free credit score service that updates on a daily basis.

In addition to your credit score, WalletHub offers other useful services to improve your credit and financials. Customers receive free monitoring of their TransUnion account, as well as services such as customized advice to improve your credit, credit card recommendations, and savings alerts.

Credit Journey from Chase

Chase offers TransUnion scores and reports via Credit Journey. This service is free and available to all consumers (not just Chase customers). Your score is updated on a weekly basis.

Chase also tracks your score over time and has a credit score simulator that shows how your score might change if you take certain actions.

Free Annual Credit Reports

You should know that, by law, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax are required to issue a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. Consumers who request a free copy of their report will receive a full copy, whereas many free services only offer a limited report. You can use your free annual reports to review the information included and contest any mistakes that you find.

Unfortunately, your annual free credit report does not include any actual credit scores. To access this information, you’ll have to sign up for a free credit score service or pay for your scores.

Annual credit reports can be requested at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Final Thoughts

Because free score services only offer scores derived from one or two agencies and don’t always offer a full credit report, it’s a good idea to also request free copies of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com on a yearly basis and contest any mistakes that you have found.

That said, free credit score services are useful for educational purposes and general credit monitoring — just remember that the specific score shown is unlikely to be the same score that your creditors see. However, a free score service can give you the tools you need to improve and maintain your credit score. All the services listed above are free, easy to use, and offer useful services in addition to your credit score.

Do you need to improve your credit? Read about five ways to improve your score.

The post The Best Free Credit Score Services appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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8 Ways To Finance Your Small Business

Business financing is often a necessary part of growing a business, but when it comes to finding capital, it can be difficult to know where to start. Should you get a credit card? What about a loan from your local bank? Is there useful financing out there that you haven’t even heard of?

Read on, and we’ll point you in the right direction. This article discusses the most common (and some less common) ways of getting financing for your business. And, if you find the right type of financing for your business, we’ll give you the next steps to continue your search.

Want help finding a business loan? Apply now to Merchant Maverick’s Community of Lenders. We’ve partnered with banks, credit unions, and other financiers across the country to bring you fast and easy business financing.

1. Business Loans

As you might expect, business loans are one of the most popular and versatile ways of financing your business. Most businesses will qualify for a business loan of one sort or another, and they can be used for many business purposes, from working capital to business expansion to refinancing.

Business loans come from many different places. While everybody knows that you can get a business loan from a bank, you might not be aware that other financial institutions offer business loans. Many offer loans that are easier to qualify for and have faster applications than bank loans. Here are places that commonly offer business loans:

  • Banks and credit unions offer business loans and other types of financing.
  • Nonprofits, not-for-profit institutions, and microlenders offer small business loans and other types of financing to create jobs and fuel community growth.
  • The Small Business Administration partners with financial institutions to offer business loans. Read more about SBA loans in our guide to their programs.
  • Online lenders, also called “alternative lenders,” offer business loans and other types of financing with fast, semi- or fully-automated application processes.

Loans come in many different forms. The most common are installment loans, in which the money is granted to the business in one lump sum and then repaid via incremental, fixed, payments. However, some loans might have special fee and repayment structures — you might find loans with fixed fees (like short-term loans), loans that have repayment rates based on the percentage of money you make every day or month, or other arrangements. In other words, with a little looking, most merchants will be able to find something that is suited to the needs of their business.

For more information on small business loans, check out our free Beginner’s Guide to Small Business Loans. Or, to read reviews of individual lenders, head over to our small business loans review category.

2. Business Lines Of Credit

Business lines of credit are a sort of hybrid between business loans and credit cards. Like business loans, with a line of credit, you can borrow a sum of money which is (normally) repaid along with interest in installments over a set period of time. Like credit cards, you can request funds at any time, up to your available credit limit.

If you occasionally need funds to make ends meet or grow your business, or you simply want a safety net in case of emergencies, a line of credit is an excellent tool at your disposal.

Credit lines can be especially useful to businesses on a timeline because you don’t need to apply every time you need to borrow funds. When you are approved for a credit line, you’re granted access to a certain amount of money from which you can draw at any time. If you have a revolving line of credit, the amount you can borrow will replenish as you repay outstanding debts.

Some credit lines, such as asset-backed lines of credit, can work a little differently. If you have access to a credit line secured by unpaid invoices, inventory, or other assets, the amount you can draw at any given time will depend on the value of the assets you have outstanding. These credit lines are normally best for B2B businesses.

Credit lines carry a few drawbacks — most credit lines have variable interest rates, which mean that your rates might change without notice. And, if you aren’t very good at managing money, you might find that you don’t have emergency funds when you need them. However, lines of credit are useful tools for many businesses.

In the past, it was difficult for all but the most well-established and prosperous businesses to get credit lines. With the advent of online loans, it’s becoming easier for businesses of all sizes to access this useful financing tool. Check out our guide to business lines of credit for more information, or, if you’re interested in procuring one, take a look at our favorite line of credit services.

3. Business Credit Cards

There are many reasons to get a business credit card for your business.

For starters, most credit card issuers offer rewards and benefits to merchants who have signed on with their services. By using the card, you could be earning savings in the form of cash back points (that can be redeemed for travel or other expenses). These rewards add up in the long run, and you might be able to save your business quite a bit of money. Additionally, many credit card issuers offer benefits to cardholders, such as extended warranty, price protection, roadside assistance, and other perks.

Credit cards are also convenient ways to keep track of expenses and smooth out cash flow. If you put all your purchases on your credit card, you can easily see what you’ve been spending money on and where you might be able to cut costs. Because the money isn’t coming out of your own account right away, you can defer payments until a more convenient date. You don’t have to struggle to come up with money for expenses if you don’t have it at the moment, or it would be more convenient to pay later.

Of course, credit cards do have some downsides: the APRs can be expensive, so if you don’t pay your bills in time you could wind up with hefty fees that can be difficult to pay off. Additionally, some credit cards carry extra fees, like annual fees and balance transfer fees, which could eat into the money you save by using the card in the first place. However, if you are good at managing money, and spend time choosing a card that will maximize your savings based on how much you plan to utilize the card, credit cards can be excellent tools for many businesses.

Interested in getting a business credit card? Check out a list of our favorite business credit cards. Or, if you are starting a business, you might be interested in our favorite personal credit cards that can be used for business.

4. Merchant Cash Advances

If you need a one-time amount of funds, it might be worth considering a merchant cash advance. This type of financing can be useful for B2C businesses with strong daily sales.

In practice, merchant cash advances are similar to business loans, with the exception of how they’re repaid. Cash advances are repaid by deducting a small percentage of your daily sales; the amount you are repaying each day will vary along with your cash flow. These financial products don’t have a set repayment date, but are normally repaid in a year or less.

Merchant cash advances are an excellent tool for B2C businesses that need a small infusion of cash for working capital, business growth, or other reasons. Know, however, that cash advances have a few downsides: they can be very expensive, and the cost might not be immediately apparent because the fee structure is different than a traditional loan. Instead of interest, cash advance fees are calculated using a factor rate, which can obscure the true cost of the advance.

Head over to our comprehensive article on merchant cash advances for more information, or take a look at our reviews of merchant cash advance providers if you’re interested in finding an advance.

5. Personal Loans

While business loans are based on the credibility and strength of your business, personal loans are based on your personal creditworthiness and financial health. For this reason, these loans can be useful for entrepreneurs, startups, and other businesses that don’t yet have a credit history. You’ll want to give this option a pass if you have separated your business and personal finances, but if you’re not there yet, a personal loan can help you get your business up and going.

Personal loans are normally available from banks, credit unions, and online lenders. You’ll have to have a steady source of income, a solid debt-to-income ratio, and fair credit to qualify for reasonable rates.

Take a look at our guide to personal loans for business for more information, or check out our startup business loan reviews for reviews on personal lenders.

6. Crowdfunding

Rising to prominence due to the internet and some changes in legislature, crowdfunding allows you to finance your business via a network of your peers.

Crowdfunding is normally used by entrepreneurs to get a startup off the ground, or by creators who need money to fund a product. In a crowdfunding arrangement, the entrepreneur creates a campaign, which usually includes a description of their business or product, information about the founders and their partners, a rough timeline, potential problems, and other frequently asked questions.

Perhaps the most well-known type of crowdfunding, popularized by services such as Kickstarter (read our review) and Indiegogo (read our review), is rewards crowdfunding. You may not be aware that there are actually quite a few different type of crowdfunding available:

  • Rewards crowdfunding, from services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, allows contributors to receive products in exchange for backing the business or project.
  • Donation crowdfunding, on sites like Razoo (read our review), involves funds that are donated to your cause. This type of crowdfunding is typically only used for nonprofits or other charitable projects.
  • Debt crowdfunding, from services such as Kiva U.S. (read our review), works similarly to a business loan — backers contribute money with the expectation that it will be paid back, normally with interest.
  • Equity crowdfunding, from company’s like Fundable (read our review), works when backers contribute money in exchange for equity in your business.

Between all the different types available, most entrepreneurs should be able to find a type of crowdfunding that will suit their business or project. Some less-than-sexy businesses, however, might find that they have trouble appealing to casual investors. While debt and equity crowdfunding — which tends to attract more serious backers — might solve that problem, some businesses might still need to look at other financing options.

Crowdfunding also tends to take a long time. Typically, the entrepreneur has to create a campaign and enter into a one- to three-month funding period. The funding period might require a fair amount of marketing, networking, communicating with current and potential backers, and other work to get your project funded.

Interested in crowdfunding? Head over to our startup business loans review category to read reviews of crowdfunding services.

7. Invoice Factoring

Invoice factoring is a financial solution for B2B businesses that invoice their customers. If you have cash flow struggles due to slow-paying customers, invoice factoring is a potential solution. Factoring is commonly used in industries such as construction, manufacturing, printing, and other B2B businesses.

Invoice factors purchase your unpaid invoices at a discount. While you’ll have to take a bit of a loss, invoice factoring can get you the money you need, when you need it, to keep your business going.

When you sell an invoice to a factoring company, you will receive most of the money up-front, and the factor will place a small amount on reserve. Then, when your customer pays the invoice, the funds are diverted to the factoring company, and you will receive the rest of the money in the reserve, minus the invoice factor’s fee.

There are many invoice factoring arrangements, depending on the factoring company and the needs of your business. You can find factors that require you to sell a lot of invoices or ones that let you pick and choose more carefully. Some factors require that your customers know about the arrangement, while others will keep it a secret, and so on.

Invoice factoring has gotten a bad rap in the past because some factoring companies employed poor practices, such as failing to disclose extra fees, requiring long-term contracts and monthly minimums, and other reasons. However, if you do your due diligence, you will be able to find an invoice factor that suits your business’s needs without employing poor tactics. Check out our Basic Introduction To Invoice Factoring to learn what to look for, and take a look at our comprehensive invoice factoring reviews to learn about individual factors.

8. Equipment Financing

If you run a business that relies on computers, manufacturing equipment, restaurant equipment, vehicles, or other equipment that might be difficult to pay for out of your business’s own pocket, equipment financing might be right for you.

Equipment financing covers two types of financing: equipment loans and equipment leases.

Equipment loans are similar to traditional business loans, but the equipment is generally used as collateral. In a typical equipment loan arrangement, the lender will cover 80% to 90% of the equipment, and you will be responsible for paying the other 10% to 20%.

Equipment leases are arrangements in which you rent the equipment for a certain period of time. In practice, some lease arrangements are similar to loans, because you have the opportunity to buy the equipment at the end of the leading period, but other arrangements are designed so that you can return or trade in the equipment after a certain period of time. Because you don’t have to purchase the equipment, leases can be a good option for businesses that only need equipment for a short time, or frequently need to upgrade expensive equipment (like computers) due to changes in technology.

Equipment financing, especially equipment loans, will most likely be more expensive in the long run than purchasing the equipment outright. However, if you can’t afford what you need, an equipment loan or lease is an excellent way to get financing.

Head over to What Is Equipment Financing? to learn more about this type of financing, or our equipment financing review category to learn about individual financiers.

Final Thoughts

Business owners have many financing tools at their disposal, but finding the right tool for the job can take some work. The above resources will point you in the right direction.

Need some more help? Merchant Maverick’s Community of Lenders is there for you. We’ve teamed up with banks, credit unions, and other financiers across the country to provide our readers with fast and easy business financing. With one short application, you can check your eligibility for all participating financial institutions. Read more about the service, including a step-by-step guide through the application process, in Mirador Finance & Merchant Maverick: Making Small Business Loans Easier.

The post 8 Ways To Finance Your Small Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Are Alternative Funders Abandoning Merchant Payday Loans?

Right now, if you’ve searched for financing online, you’ve most likely encounter advertisements and sites offering merchant payday loans (MCAs). Actually, there’s even a high probability you’ve experienced some cautionary tales about the subject. You might have even heard rumors that alternative funders are abandoning MCAs entirely.

What’s obvious would be that the market is undergoing some changes because it reaches maturity. Even though it’s unlikely the MCA will appear reduced in the near future, the businesses offering them–and under what conditions–may change. Below, we’ll check out a few of the trends we have seen emerging among MCA funders. But first…

Table of Contents

A Short Origin Story

Following the Great Recession, traditional banks were unwilling to extend youthful companies credit, especially individuals without stellar FICO scores. This made unfulfilled interest in new, aggressive companies to fill. Many billed themselves as tech companies, operating mainly online and will be offering an efficient, modern-feeling application that emphasized speed and convenience. They aimed, as Plastic Valley is frequently keen on saying, to disrupt.

The paradox, obviously, is they were (and therefore are) still financial companies, and finance has some inherently conservative traits. Risk needs to be priced in to the product. The higher the risk, typically, the greater the payout must be. The low your lending standards, the bigger your possible client base–assuming you are able to reap a higher enough rate of interest.

Most states have usury laws and regulations on their own books that set all the appeal to you may charge on the loan. But merchant payday loans aren’t loans inside a legal sense. Whenever you join one, you technically aren’t being loaned money you’ve designed a purchase and been paid for it. Whoever else offered? A portion of the future sales. The resulting arrangement looks nearly the same as financing without really being one. Recent rulings, such as this one from New You are able to, illustrate how MCAs effectively bypass loan legislation.

This model has shown appealing to both entrepreneurs and traditional financers, the second which sometimes supply the source capital for that merchant cash loan company.

The Company Issue

Because it’s largely unregulated, the MCA industry includes a status to be nature frontier of economic funding: it’s a higher-risk, high-reward proposition in the outlook during the funder.

For that actual business being funded, however, that arrangement look nearly the same as predatory lending. MCAs envision nightmare scenarios of triple-digit APRs, a lot of hidden charges, along with a particularly insidious practice known as “double-dipping,” in which the customer effectively winds up having to pay interest on interest.

Pointless to state, the saying “merchant cash advance” provides extensive baggage, a lot of rid of it-deserved. While MCAs have been in no danger of disappearing, there’s a couple of trends that seem to be emerging inside the industry.

Attrition

Because of the online orientation on most MCA funders, they are usually competing inside a nationwide (and occasionally international) market instead of local, captive markets. This puts an MCA funder located in California in direct competition with one from Sc. Latecomers towards the market especially may have a problem eliminating a distinct segment, or they should pursue more and more dangerous customers, frequently seeing correspondingly high default rates.

Pointless to state, it isn’t unusual to determine a few of the less competitive funders close shop or consolidate.

Pivoting to Loans

Some alternative funders offer both MCAs and short-term loans (STLs). In the customer’s perspective, the 2 goods are pretty similar, featuring fast processing, daily payments, and short-term lengths.

Unlike MCAs, however, STLs are susceptible to condition usury laws and regulations. Consequently, you’ll frequently see alternative funders prepared to offer STLs in states with less stringent laws and regulations while only offering MCAs in stricter states.

However, some alternative lenders are pivoting to loans because they’ve were able to create a reliable niche with less dangerous customers.

Rebranding

One other way alternative funders coping the negative thought of MCAs is as simple as rebranding. This could happen in the business level, using the funder altering their DBA or spinning off a side brand, separating their MCA activities from the remainder of their business.

Some funders simply decide to alter the definitions of the products. One common approach would be to present an advance that utilizes fixed costs and ACH withdrawals instead of claiming a portion of daily debit and credit card sales. The product can always be known as an MCA, however, many funders call it another thing. Furthermore, it enables the funder to give the client funding even when it normally won’t satisfy the requisite card revenue that traditional MCAs require.

Taming the Animal

Many funders are attempting another position, however. Instead of trying to sidestep the pitfalls from the MCA sector or abandon it entirely, some are attempting to rehabilitate its status.

While total transparency continues to be uncommon, it’s increasingly common for funders to publish more and more exhaustive breakdowns of the processes, rates, and charges. Incidents where provide tools like loan calculators which help customers compare their goods to individuals of competitors, or perhaps to traditional loans.

A couple of funders ‘re going one step farther. Frequently, largely unregulated industries attempt to preempt potential condition participation by creating self-regulatory agencies. Think the Motion Picture Association of the usa or even the Entertainment Rating Software Board.

Go into the Innovative Lending Platform Association (ILPA). Presently made up of seven alternative lenders, the ILPA evidently seeks to create a business standard for transparency and supply guidelines for alternative lending. By defining a Code of Ethics along with a comprehensive group of metrics, ILPA tries to address a few of the greatest criticisms of the profession.

Final Ideas

Reports around the dying from the merchant cash loan seem to be exaggerated, however it does appear to become a business that, in reaching maturity, has additionally arrived at a vital level. Whether this specific financial product turns into a lengthy-term fixture in financing or winds up as a quirk of the publish-recession recession remains seen.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is definitely an independent author, journalist, programmer, and game designer that has mastered the skill of using his laptop in no less than 541 positions, many of them unergonomic. When he isn’t pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s most likely out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen area, or delighting/annoying his buddies together with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

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10 Kinds of Alternative Financing for Small Companies

alternative small business financing

Small company financing is notoriously hard to procure. Most loans from banks require the applicant have stellar credit and a pair of+ years running a business – as well as then, there isn’t any guarantee you’ll obtain a loan. Based on Biz2Credit, big banks approved under 25% of small company loan demands in March 2016, while smaller sized banks approved under 1 / 2 of applicants.

More and more, small companies are embracing alternative financing options the web makes it simpler to obtain business funding using their company channels. With many of these options, you are able to apply on the internet and get funding a lot more rapidly and simply than you’d having a financial loan. Continue reading to learn all you need to know of the realm of alternative small company financing.

Table of Contents

1. Online Loans

Online lenders generally offer products much like loans from banks (quick installment loans, for instance) – however these loans vary from loans from banks inside a couple of important ways. Generally, they’ve less stringent needs regarding your credit rating, amount of time in business, and annual revenue. They’re also simpler to try to get and take a shorter period to become funded. The only real caveat is the fact that in return for this convenience and ease of access, online loans usually carry greater rates of interest than loans from banks.

Online lenders who offer short-term loans, particularly, have especially poor needs – however they have especially high rates of interest too.

A couple of online lenders we actually like for small company loans include:

2. Credit lines

A type of credit (LOC) is yet another product you may either receive from a financial institution or perhaps an online loan provider — but because with quick installment loans, business LOC’s are usually simpler to obtain online than from the bank. In situation you’re unfamiliar with the word, a credit line is a kind of financial safety internet for any business essentially, you’re granted an amount of cash from which you’ll draw anytime – kind of just like a charge card. Typically, you’re billed interest only on which you borrow.

A company credit line is a great alternative financing option for a company that does not require a quantity of cash but really wants to shore up additional funding to pay for expenses for example payroll during skinny occasions.

A couple of credit line providers for small companies are:

3. Unsecured Loans

Should you haven’t been around very lengthy, it’s tough to obtain a traditional business loan. Fortunately, many unsecured loans may also be used for business purposes. Using these loans, typically structured as regular quick installment loans, eligibility and rate of interest are based on your individual creditworthiness.

Using this type of financing, you will probably get access to a smaller sized amount of cash — most personal lenders cap their borrowing amounts at $35K or $50K. If you want a lot more capital than this, an unsecured loan isn’t for you personally.

Here are a few good providers of private loans for business:

4. P2P loans

Peer-to-peer lending is really a newer lending model whereby you borrow funds out of your peers instead of from one banking entity. Usually, a banking platform approves the loan to visit love online putting in a bid, however the funds ultimately originate from anyone else who wish to fund your business.

P2P lending isn’t the smartest choice for companies with poor credit, as small-time investors are usually very risk-adverse. However, the rules for approval continue to be less stringent than individuals for loans from banks.

Some P2P lenders we love to are:

4. Microloans

Microloans are small loans of under $35K (typically nearer to $5K–$10K), offered by low interest rate. Typically, microloans receive to startups or newer companies looking for capital. They frequently serve under-symbolized or disadvantaged groups (for example lady-owned companies and minority-owned companies) even including individuals with poor credit. Banks in the past haven’t been thinking about lending such small quantities of money, but alternative lenders, including some not-for-profit lenders, have joined the microloan space recently.

Certain areas to obtain microloans include:

6. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a superb method for some kinds of companies to boost funds using their peers online. In this manner, crowdfunding is much like P2P lending.

You will find four kinds of crowdfunding: debt, rewards, equity, and charitable organization. With rewards crowdfunding, it’s not necessary to pay back the money rather, you accept provide your backers something to acquire their donation. With equity-based crowdfunding, someone invests inside your business in return for a share of the business/product. You may even need to pay a charge towards the crowdfunding platform itself. This short article adopts the variations between the different sorts of crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is just suitable for some kinds of companies. Popular crowdfunding sites Kickstarter and Indiegogo are aimed toward people who are creating some kind of media (just like a movie or music album) or perhaps an innovative, consumer product (like a new tech gadget). Several others, including GoFundMe, tend to be more aimed toward charitable projects. Still, there are several sites like Fundable that offer crowdfunding to an array of business types.

Take a look at a few of these trustworthy crowdfunders pointed out above:

7. Small business administration Loans

Government-backed Sba (Small business administration) loans make the perfect option to obtaining a loan from a financial institution should you not have greatly collateral. The Small business administration doesn’t technically offer loans rather, it guarantees some of the loan issued by a bank, lending institution, nonprofit, or any other loan provider. The guarantee implies that, should you default around the loan, the Small business administration will pay back part of the remaining debt. The Small business administration provides a couple of different home loan programs, but typically the most popular is the general 7(a) small company loan.

There’s also several online lenders which use technology to hurry up and simplify the entire process of trying to get an Small business administration loan, which means that you can find the loan several days faster.

Some online services that provide Small business administration loans include:

8. Factoring Invoices

Factoring invoices is a kind of financing that releases cash from outstanding invoices. Factoring invoices companies get your delinquent invoices for a cheap price.

As you may expect, factoring invoices is suitable for companies that often have delinquent invoices. Poor credit isn’t typically an issue, as factors tend to be more worried about your customer’s capability to pay, not your business’s. As a result, startups and newer companies are generally qualified with this alternative financing option.

Some highly regarded factoring invoices lenders include:

9. Equipment Financing

Equipment financing is … well, just what it seems like. That’s, it’s money you borrow to obtain the equipment you have to run your company, whether you’ll need a new computer or industry-specific machinery.

The word “equipment financing” encompasses both loans and leases. Equipment loans are perfect for firms that are able to afford a lower payment on equipment with lengthy-term utility. Leases tend to be more appropriate should you can’t afford a lower payment or maybe the gear must be replaced or upgraded frequently. If you are unsure which suits your requirements, take a look at our article on equipment loans versus. leases.

A couple of equipment financing options we love to include:

10. Grants

Ah, the elusive business grant, a.k.a., FREE MONEY. This really is most likely the most challenging kind of business financing to obtain, however if you simply think you may be qualified, you need to certainly consider your grant options. Some business grants are government-funded (on the federal, condition, or local level), though some NGOs as well as independently held companies offer small company grants.

StreetShares awards grants as high as $5,000 to veteran small company proprietors, and Lending Tree includes a $50,000 small company grant. Innovative tech startups may be qualified to get as much as $1.5 million in grant money in the federally funded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. This Fundera blog publish includes a comprehensive listing of organizations that provide small company grants.

Final Ideas

A couple of more items to note about alternative financing for your online business:

  • Should you choose would like to try to try to get a financial institution loan, think about a small bank or perhaps a lending institution where you’ll have a greater possibility of being recognized, based on Biz2Credit research.
  • A merchant cash loan is another kind of alternative financing, but we didn’t include it about this list because it must only be utilized for a final resort — the charges and terms commonly are not very merchant-friendly.
  • The greater your credit rating is, the greater financial loans you’ll have. It’s smart to make efforts to improve your credit score before you begin trying to get loans.

Require more help selecting an alternate lending option? Leave an issue within the comments and I’ll do my favorite to reply to it!

Shannon Vissers

Shannon is really a freelance author and editor located in North Park, CA. Shannon type of wants an apple iphone 7, but she’s not necessarily prepared to lose the headphone jack.

Shannon Vissers
Shannon Vissers

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